An Interview with Laura Torres, LCDC
Laura Torres is a passionate person. She cares about social justice, community connection and the unique story found within every individual.
Growing up in Houston, Laura was part of a church community that emphasized respect for human dignity and service to those in need. “I grew up in a family where social awareness and shared responsibility toward others was a part of our everyday life,” she says. “I remember that my father made it a point to greet everyone by looking them directly in the eye and shaking their hand, which was his way of acknowledging the uniqueness of that person, their humanity.”
Connecting with Clients in Recovery
At Promises, she’s found another way to connect with the community. “Working with clients in recovery, for me, is an extension of doing what I learned growing up,” she says. “It feeds so much of what I’m passionate about, which is people finding stability and strength in their community, and people having a voice even though they think they’ve lost it.”
Laura holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from St. Edward’s University in Austin and is pursuing a master’s degree in counseling from Texas State University. Prior to joining Promises in 2010, she worked as an addiction counselor at a men’s correctional facility and as a counselor in an intensive outpatient program in Austin. Laura has worked with a broad range of people in addiction recovery, and what has struck her the most about her varied experiences is not the differences in the populations but the similarities.
In fact, the transitions have been a unifying experience, she says. “Part of our human condition is that no matter what your status may be, the circumstances of your life, the choices you have made that have gotten you to where you are now, most everyone ends up facing a lot of the same challenges. Everyone who’s battling addiction is struggling with issues of compassion and self-forgiveness, trying to find their place in the world, trying to establish an identity past the behaviors that brought them here.”
Laura’s job as a counselor has reinforced many of the values imbued by her family. “I’ve been able to take the stories from people in prison and people struggling in the community every day and bring that to the clients I’m working with at Promises,” she says. “I can remind them of the humanity that we share, and that every single person is equal and that we have a lot more in common than we might realize.”
In short, she says, “It doesn’t matter what your name is. It doesn’t matter what your job title is. It doesn’t matter where you come from. It’s okay to ask for help.”
Rewriting the Story
As a therapist, Laura draws on a mix of cognitive and experiential strategies. She believes that healing comes from looking both inward and outward. She helps clients develop tools for exploring the here and now, which can be crucial for expanding self-knowledge and authenticity, the cornerstones for personal growth. But she also encourages clients to do what’s known as systems work—to see themselves within the context of their families and community.
“Every person has a personal narrative—an identity and story of who they are and where they came from,” she says. Laura encourages clients to look at that narrative as important, but fluid. “The narrative that we have from the past isn’t locked in,” she says. “We are the perpetual authors of our story, and we can rewrite it. That doesn’t mean that we get to erase our past, but we’re not prisoners of it, either. We can give it its rightful place, and in the end, we’re authors of what’s ahead of us.”
The Proof Is in the Stars
In addition to having a passion for community service, Laura has a passion for music, astronomy and, especially, the legendary astrophysicist Carl Sagan. For all of the time she spends helping her clients look inward, her telescope represents an opportunity to look outward. “I love science and there is a lot of spirituality in science,” she says. “For me, astronomy illustrates the mystery of what’s out there and endless possibilities. And that’s the gift of human existence. Frankly, that’s what’s so joyous and mysterious about addiction counseling,” she says. “Wherever you are today, if what you’re doing isn’t working for you and you want to do something different, then great. There are many ways to get there, and we’ll figure it out.”